The big news going into Monday Night Raw was that the boss himself, Vince McMahon would be gracing us with his presence. Though his on-screen time is much less nowadays than it once was (he is 73 years old, after all), it’s always good to see him and we were promised that Vince’s arrival would signal a major shakeup in WWE. Seth Rollins addressed the recent slump in ratings a week prior, so many expected Vince to hammer out some trades between brands, bring in some new arrivals from NXT and perhaps some things we weren’t expecting. As it happened, nothing much occurred other than Vince and his family telling the WWE Universe that it was us who would be in charge. Does that mean if things don’t work out they can blame the fans, or will they actively seek feedback from their audiences to improve the product? Only time will tell, I guess.
Now that both Raw and Smackdown Live have aired, as well as taping next week’s shows, not much has happened to be called a ‘shakeup’. Yes, it was really nice to see Mustafa Ali get involved with some of the big boys on the blue brand, but other than that… not much else happened. Perhaps Vice’s appearance was just laying the foundations for something bigger come the turn of the year. It’s understandable considering the holiday season is upon us, so what possible shakeups are on the horizon? Here’s my take on what I believe could/should be done. Please note I’m not going to include things that I may like but know won’t happen, like Raw cutting to two hours or Roman Reigns moving to Smackdown Live from January next year. As much as we’d like that, it’s highly unlikely, if not impossible.
Sort out the Authority Roles
Baron Corbin’s reign as Raw GM is over. It never really got going, did it? As much as I admire Corbin for giving it a good shot and trying his best to change his character, it just didn’t have the desired effect. What ended up happening was a strange formula of Corbin inserting himself into feuds, agitating the same stars each week with little impact on the overall show. He tried to be a heel GM but appeared to take little or no interest in anything outside of the main event. Hopefully whatever they do with the guy will benefit him as I believe there’s serious talent there, but he has yet to be properly showcased.
Over on Smackdown, Paige has done a sterling job in her authoritative role and hopefully she can be kept on in some capacity. It does show a contrast to Corbin in that Paige adopted a more hands-off approach, only involving herself in matters when required and not inserting her ego into feuds or story-lines. Perhaps a fine medium is needed for GMs; if they’re going to be heels, have them be heels to all the babyfaces on the roster, not just the top guys. If they’re going to be more hands-off, have them be fair and impartial, but keep that air of authority so when they speak, they’re respected. I also think GMs shouldn’t wrestle and just leave the action to the stars in the ring.
Don’t Rely on NXT to Fix the Issues
NXT is awesome, but at the same time, it isn’t the answer to falling ratings on Raw. I fully understand wanting to promote talent from Florida onto the main roster to boost the viewing figures, but WWE needs to be cautious if they adopt this approach. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how NXT fans aren’t typical WWE fans and every fan who watches Raw or Smackdown may not watch NXT every week, therefore they would be unfamiliar with Velveteen Dream, Tomasso Ciampa and others. They may get huge pops on NXT, but that doesn’t guarantee the same pop will happen on a Monday night when they arrive on the scene. That’s not a shot at the WWE Universe, just a cautious step that needs to be taken when introducing NXT talent to a wider audience. If they’re going to be brought up, have them make an instant impact, use vignettes, anything to build hype for their arrival.
It’s also worth remembering that an influx of NXT talent may boost ratings initially, but the roster would become overcrowded and stars who have little TV time as it is, would find their opportunities limited even more. Perhaps the rumors of some main roster talent going to NXT for a while will help all parties and perhaps rejuvenate some careers. I really want to see some NXT talent go to Raw and Smackdown, but maybe hold back on the numbers to allow maximum impact and also not take too many stars from the always-excellent NXT shows.
Try Something New With the Mid-Card Titles
I’m not talking about major overhauls or getting rid of some titles, but how about switching it up a little? There’s a definite line on both brands between the main event Heavyweight Title contenders and the mid-card guys. Maybe WWE can do something to make this section of the roster more interesting and consistent? How about a ranking system to determine number one contenders? I think that could work well with both the Intercontinental and United States Titles. It gives talent with no current feuds something to do and could also be used for tag teams with injured team members or perhaps have both men in the rankings? I’d suggest the same for the tag titles, however the sheer number of tag teams needed to fill a ranking system would be too much – unless the tag titles were cut to one and the division spread between both brands – something I doubt will happen.
Don’t Meddle with the Women’s Division
Is there room for improvement? Yes. Does WWE need to change Becky, Charlotte, Asuka or Rousey? No. Don’t you dare, WWE. Don’t you dare.
So what do you think? What small or large changes would you like WWE to implement? Should there be a ranking system for the mid-card titles? How would you bring in NXT stars and who would you like to see? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone for reading my musings in 2018 and for the comments, tweets, likes and retweets (particularly Joe Sondag). Thanks for supporting this great site and thanks to John Canton for allowing me to continue to contribute to it. I hope you enjoy whatever you celebrate this holiday season. Stay happy, stay positive and I hope 2019 is a great year for every one of you. See you next year, TJR Wrestling faithful. Mike S.